Scrap Metal

I often feel that games development, and perhaps other “creative industries”, would benefit greatly from having one guy in a team whose job it is to ask awkward questions beginning with the word “why”. Scrap Metal is certainly one of those games which would have come out of the process greatly improved. Here are some of the “why” questions which should have been, but apparently were not, asked.

Why does it take place in a world where nothing can happen unless it happens on a dirt race track?

This isn’t a particularly serious problem. I’m starting off slowly. But it is mildly ridiculous that when homicidal maniacs are pursuing you with the intent of turning your vehicle into a pile of mangled metal and minced flesh, the way you defeat them is by completing eight laps of the track.

Why are the “simple mode” controls all on the left side of the pad?

Steering on the left stick, brake on the left trigger. Again, hardly a major gripe, but it just seems weird. On the other hand, if you want any degree of success in this game at all, you’ll be using the advanced controls anyway.

You'll be seeing this screen a lot.
You'll be seeing this screen a lot.

Why can you only have four cars in your garage at a time?

Now we’re starting to get to the real deal-breakers. It seems to me that it would have been better for the player if, once you’d earned a car, you could just upgrade and use it whenever you wanted. As it is, you have to choose carefully which ones you want to have in your garage and which ones to remove, which also leads on to the next question.

Why, when I swap out a car that’s in my garage, do I lose all the upgrades I’ve bought for it?

This is not a joke. If you’ve spent a lot of money on upgrading a car, and you swap it out for another one from the junk pile, you lose all of your upgrades. I’m pretty sure this was done to require the player to grind more in order to re-buy upgrades (to artificially prolong the gameplay, in other words) and the only way to effectively do that is to re-play one of the low-level easy races over and over again.  Note to game developers: This isn’t fun. Stop doing it. If  your game is too short, make more of it. Or leave it short and charge less. Either would be preferable to this.

Why are there cars with close-range weapons when the guns are clearly so much more effective?

In a game where some cars have guns and others have chainsaws and circular saw blades, the melee-range weapons had better be damned effective to make up for their massive range penalty. They’re not.

Why do the speed and grip stats on cars appear to have no effect on their speediness or grippiness?

This is one of the most annoying things about this game. If I switch to a car that has up to five stars for speed and grip, and I pay to upgrade it to those five stars, and I then enter a race against cars which have a maximum of three stars in those categories, I had damn well better go faster and corner better than they do. Otherwise, what’s the point in spending all that cash on upgrades?

I couldn't agree more, Alex.
I couldn't agree more, Alex.

Why does my car just spin out with apparently no provocation? For that matter, why does it sometimes fly up into the air?

Seriously.

So, one has to wonder, why were these questions not asked? And if they were, why weren’t they addressed? On first sight Scrap Metal’s a fun little Super-Sprint-With-Guns type game, and as a long-time fan of Super Sprint I think that’s a concept which is well worth exploring; that just means that when I found out what this game actually is, I was all the more disappointed.


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One response to “Scrap Metal”

  1. Darach avatar
    Darach

    Well, that’s emphatic 🙂
    Saves me having to download the demo.

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